Nick rang Ben. Ben could see it was Nick calling, and Ben was with a girl.
“Nick! Stop calling me, you fucking crackhead.”
“I’ll assume you’re with a girl and thus play along. Put me on speakerphone”
Ben did. Nick made some pleas in the general notion of being a crackhead and Ben’s girl laughed at the pathetic crackhead ringing Ben. Most normal people would have wondered why Ben knew crackheads, but the girls Ben generally went for were a little more visual and a little less smart.
Ben took Nick off speakerphone.
“So, what the fuck do you want, cunt?”
“Did I see you last night?” asked Nick.
“Of course. You came over here and sucked my dad’s cock.”
“No, but seriously?”
“No, why? Have you rung Matt? He’s probably implanted a tracking device in your neck.”
“I have, but he hasn’t. He has tried though. Twice.”
“Maybe you ought to let him.”
“After last night, I might have to if I ever want to go out again.”
“I can see the headlines now. BARS CLOSE DUE TO NICK TEETOTALISM.”
“Hey, I’d stay in, but I’d still be a drunk twat.”
“True. I have no idea what you did last night though, mate. Maybe you should give up the crack?”
“Maybe you should give up fucking cheap little tarts and associating yourself with me and Matt when it suits you, but hey ho, the world is imperfect.”
“Touche mate. Oh wait, I heard one thing. Rachel’s sister sent me a text earlier asking for your number.”
Then it clicked or at least he thought it did. The mystery girl might have been Rachel’s sister. “I’ve met her, though, right?”
“You have. I believe you tried to shag her at her father’s funeral”
“Oh yes. Whoops.”
“Could have been worse.”
“Yeah, but short of trying to shag her father, I fail to see the relevance of that argument.”
“True.. but if I’ve met her, it can’t be her I saw last night, right?”
“Well, you have been known to forget people you’ve known for a long time… remember when you beat up that old man you found trying to steal your car stereo?”
“What about him?”
“Nick, that was your father! He was upgrading your in-car music for your birthday! You stumbled down, three quarters cut and knock seven bails of shit out of him!”
“…Four years later.”
“Look, I’m sure I’d remember Rachel’s sister. She’s the one with the ‘personality’, of the two, right?”
“Yeah, this girl was fit.”
“Can I just voice a note of caution? You were seeing things through some considerable beer goggles – is it not possible that what you remember and what you saw are different things entirely?”
Nick looked his hand. In his hand was a banana. It was talking to him.
“What do you know about last night?”
“This is the problem. I don’t know anything for certain. I’m not entirely sure I even went out, or that I’m home now.”
“You think this could be part of the dream?”
“How would I know?”
Ben thought for a moment.
“Check your cock. If this is a dream, you’ll be the stud you foolishly believe yourself to be and deny that I actually am.”
Nick paused for a moment.
“I’m awake. Fuck.”
“Retrace your steps, Nick. What’s Matt doing? He’s good at this sort of shit.”
“Well, do we know where Matt was last night?”
“We were all at the party, you and Rachel had a bit of a barny and you fucked off in your usual style. Matt was going to try and find you, but he called around your haunts and nobody had seen you.”
“Shit. How did I get this drunk on Â£4.86? It beggars belief.”
“Wait a sec, did you say Â£4.86?”
“Yes. Don’t start, I’m not Fat Chris.”
“No no, Nicky.. that’s your clue, isn’t it?”
“You went out with a fiver, I guess?”
“So work out where the hell you could get two decent doubles for Â£4.86, and I bet you at least started there…”
“That’s fantastic.. Did you think that up by yourself?”
“No, Matt’s just sent me a text on my other phone… seems he’s been trying to call you!”
“Oh, okay. Thanks anyway.”
“Nick.. can you just plead with me for a little crack on speakerphone?”
“Go on then…”
Ben clicked him onto speakerphone. Background hissing burst into Nick’s ear.
“Just a little bit of crack, Mr Ben? Just a little more and I won’t tell anyone you’ve got herpes”
Ben hung up. Matt rang.
“I think I’ve figured some of this out, can you come over?”
“Pick up a few beers on the way, please…”
Forty minutes later, Nick knocked on Matt’s door, complete with beers and a street atlas, a packet of cookies and some chips.